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Wednesday night NBA grades: How about that Kyrie Irving?

Feb 27, 2014, 4:05 AM EDT

Cleveland Cavaliers v Oklahoma City Thunder Getty Images

Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while you and your friends debated canned vs. bottled beer….

source:  Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. He wasn’t in attack mode, he was in seek-and-destroy mode. With Dion Waiters and basically everyone who can shoot outside 15 feet injured he knows he has to be the man to space the floor and he did just that — 4-of-7 from three and also 3-of-6 from the midrange on the night. Also, there was the key late-game three and a late-game and-1 on Serge Ibaka that propelled the Cavs. He finished with 31 points on 19 shots. Oh, and his crossover is still impressive.

source:  Oklahoma City Thunder late game defense. A lot of arm-chair pundits are going to say “the Thunder are 0-3 with Russell Westbrook back, they are worse with him.” That’s crap. We have years of numbers — or years of watching them if you have an eye for the game — that says they are better when both Kevin Durant and Westbrook are together on the court. It’s just going to take some time to integrate Westbrook again. They will work it out. Chill.

There is nothing really for Thunder fans to worry much about, but if you want how about OKC defense under pressure. Go read John Schuhmann’s fantastic breakdown at that shows jump shooting teams give them real trouble. Then look at the Cavalier possessions in the final 4:30 of a game (so we are starting with OKC having a two-point lead at home):

Jarrett Jack open corner three on Derek Fisher’s late rotation.
• Kyrie Irving left alone at the three point line early in the clock when Thabo Sefalosha fell asleep.
Spencer Hawes gets the ball at the three point line after setting a pick and popping, nobody gets between him and the basket so he drives in for a lay-up.
• Irving short-arms a jumper but Tristan Thompson out-hustles every Thunder player to get the board, which leads to another set and a Hawes left-handed runner.
• Irving turns the ball over, his pick-and-pop timing with Hawes is understandably still a little raw.
• After struggling to get open for the ball Irving makes like he’s going for handoff from Thompson at top of key, but changes up and cuts to rim, nobody goes with him and nobody rotates quickly, one nice pass later he is driving into Serge Ibaka for an and-1.
• Jack drives left away from pick from at the top of the key, no help rotation comes until he is deep in the lane and can hit floater.
• After that it’s pretty much the foul game.

source:  Jerryd Bayless, Boston Celtics. Brad Stevens decided to start him next to Rajon Rondo and… nobody saw that coming. Bayless had 29-points and shot 5-of-8 from three (an abbheration as he shoots 28.8 percent from there on the season). I’m not really sure that’s sustainable, but give the man credit when it happens. And give him credit for taking the three rather than the long two that he often gravitates toward. Expect to see a lot more of this backcourt in the coming games.

source:  Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers. This makes 18 straight games he has scored at least 20 points. He took 25 shots to get his 23 in this one, not exactly efficient, but he still was key for the team’s win. If you watched this game and still think all he can do is dunk, well, you should take up watching cricket. He showed a midrange game, a number of post moves, his handles are amazing and he still wisely gets points by being the most athletic guy on the court. Because he is. It’s simple, players should exploit their strengths and Griffin’s biggest strength is that few can match his athleiticism. But if you think that’s all he is watch again. Or, go watch cricket.



  1. saint1997 - Feb 27, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    A) Cricket is actually super fun to watch
    B) Anyone else finding it really difficult to love Kyrie again? Seems that John Wall is just becoming a consummate professional who is hell bent on becoming the best PG in the Easy whereas Kyrie has barely improved and seems to be pouting. He’s still a great young player but top 5 PG I just don’t see it at the moment

    • casualcommenter - Feb 27, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      Irving and Wall are very talented point guards, but neither are top 5 PGs. Irving’s defense is terrible, and Wall’s still a below average shooter despite the improvement he showed late last year. They’re All-Stars because the East is weaker than the West yet gets the same number of All-Star spots as the West.
      I’d take Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Steph Curry, and Goran Dragic over those two today.

      Once Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Russell Westbrook are fully recovered from their injuries and regain their rhythm, you could make a case for those guys being better than Irving and Wall too. So those 2 guys IMO fall in the 6-10 range, not top 5.

      • progress2011 - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        GORAN DRAGIC!!!!

        Before you mention

        1. Lillard
        2. DeRozan
        3. Lowry
        4. Bledsoe
        5. Harden
        6, Ty lawson
        7. Westbrook (even if injured)

        Is it that hot in Phoenix already, where you are experiencing a heat stroke…you need to move…hahahahaha

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 27, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      “A) Cricket is actually super fun to watch”

      Ah yes, nothing quite like watching a cricketer cock one off the splice in the gully and a blighter gathering it. Then again, any sport where you can play a 14 day match and still draw seems a bit silly to me.

      • saint1997 - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:32 AM

        Firstly, a sincere congratulations on liking your own comment. Your mother must be proud.

        Secondly, the terminology you used in that sentence is so egregiously wrong, off-topic and reminiscent of an age gone by I’m starting to think Rush Limbaugh has created an account on this site.

        Thirdly, cricket doesn’t go for 14 days mate, maximum it would go for is 5. If you’re going to insist on being so factually incorrect it might be wiser to use your talents writing for Fox News than commenting garbage on the internet.

    • RavenzGunnerz - Feb 27, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      They call it Cricket for a reason. right? just sayin…

      • saint1997 - Mar 3, 2014 at 4:34 AM

        That sentence makes close to no sense at all

  2. belleby123 - Feb 27, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    And no mention of the Bulls yet again.

    • whoisrdymlz - Feb 27, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      Dude, this is a Knicks blog. What are you expecting?

    • casualcommenter - Feb 27, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Not a Bulls fan, but I agree it’s terrible to not mention what the Bulls did to Golden State last night considering that every time Steph Curry gets hot from 3, he gets his own article here at PBT.

      If the Warriors are a noteworthy team (and they are), the Bulls beating them down despite relying on guys like Mike Dunleavy to be a focal point of their offense is noteworthy.

  3. timberwolvesbrisin - Feb 27, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    I hate how condescending this site is.

    • broncobeta - Feb 27, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      They’re too busy botching the english language and massaging their egos to care.

  4. prareedoggin - Feb 27, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    I’ve said it on a lot of posts lately and Lebrons quote of the night further points to me possibly being correct. Melo to Miami next year!!! If the big 3 opt out we only have birdman and cole under contract next season. Big 3 plus melo all sign for slightly less 12-14 mil per and will easily make up for lost wages with endorsements. Can’t wait. And your plain ignorant if you don’t think lebron and co can play with Melo. Not 4 not 5 not 6…..

    • casualcommenter - Feb 27, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      “Big 3 plus melo all sign for slightly less 12-14 mil per”

      That wouldn’t be “slightly less.” That would represent a near 50% paycut given that their potential max contracts would all be in the $22+ million per year range.

      Also, LeBron is famously good friends with Kevin Durant and works out with him in the offseason. Is Durant going to join the Heat in 2 years for the veteran’s minimum salary because there are pictures of LeBron and Durant eating ice cream together on Twitter?

      Get real.

      • irvfin3 - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        Lmfao made him feel stupid

  5. prareedoggin - Feb 27, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    I am “getting real”. Also comparing Durants situation to Melos in NY is absurd. Melo is on a bottom dwelling team that sucks and has no signs of improvement for at least 2 years while OKC is flirting close to the best record in the NBA. Melo said all he cares about now is winning and will take less. Now add all that together with Miami having the cap flexibility and championship pedigree and its common sense. Look at the photo lebron tweeted of himself with wade and melo of them when they entered the league 10+ yrs ago and of them now and read how he captioned it, he’s hinting towards the signing the same way bosh and wade did with there photos and captions before lebrons announcement. Now his tweet. It’s going to happen, u can continue to hate/be scared or just accept it

    • RavenzGunnerz - Feb 27, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      I do not see LeBron taking a paycut again for anybody. LeBron took a paycut 4yrs ago because he needed to win a ring. He did…

      Now, all he needs is make money. Max money. He complained a few yrs ago that his salary was low.

  6. azarkhan - Feb 27, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    B Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs – Zen Spur, who hadn’t played since Jan 22, in 29 minutes had 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, +/- +23.

  7. udleerc - Feb 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    One could say the thunder is 0-3 since RW has returned or you can say the thunder is 0-3 since KP has been injured. Hmmmm

  8. jbeagles23 - Feb 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    I am to starting to think melo will come to Miami. He is realizing with him as the star hell never win. Might not even be able to carry a team to the playoffs in the east. Wade will most certainly take less as he’s taking on much less of a role. Lebron would take less to get melo. Bosh however I think could walk from Miami this summer.

    • miamatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      Indeed, though, to be frank, I think Miami would have a tough time replacing what Bosh gives them. Criminally underrated in his role.

  9. prareedoggin - Feb 27, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    I agree with the bosh comment, but if we win again i find it hard to believe he’d walk away from a potential dynasty with 3 rings of his own and potential for more. But its possible, i just hope he doesn’t.

  10. lowercasejay - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Portland’s bench dropped a season high 68 points last night and they crushed the Nets by 40+. Bench play has been their weak spot all year so this was a huge improvement. Now 4-1 without Aldridge. Show some love for RIPCITY.

  11. prareedoggin - Feb 27, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    Lebron made $42,000,000 last year off his nike deal alone.

  12. davidly - Mar 1, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    Would not using HTML code more likely get this posted in a timelier manner, or at all?

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